DM of the Rings XXXVIII:
As Simple as Calculus

 By Shamus Dec 6, 2006 148 comments

Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Lots of Orcs, Grapple Rules, Attack of Opportunity
Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Lots of Orcs, Grapple Rules, Attack of Opportunity

And here I finally deliver the joke / point I wanted to make way back in strip #16. The rules as presented in the rulebook seem sensible enough: If someone enters a square adjacent to an enemy, that enemy gets a free swing at them, right then and there, regardless of who’s turn it is. I’m sure proponents of the system can give you a nice list of reasons for this, why it makes combat more realistic, or what exploit it is supposed to counter.

On the surface this makes sense, although there are so many exceptions and qualifiers and footnotes and special cases that three pages after you’ve read this simple premise you’re knee-deep in a dark coagulating pool of madness. Aside from the complications of suddenly inserting a turn out of established order, there are rules to check and bonues to apply and – most sadistic of all – more information to track. Now you have to track who’s taken an AOO this round and who hasn’t, and how many such attacks each combatant is allowed, and how to handle cases where two people get AOO at once, or what happens when one AOO knocks the target into an adjacent square and creates another AOO, or how to handle AOO between creatures of greatly differing sizes and how to deal with tentacled foes and how all of this intersects with rushing, sprinting, and grappling, or what to do if an AOO is possible but the potential attacker might not be aware of the target and does this apply to non-combatants and SWEET MERCY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE!??! WILL YOU LOOK AT ALL THIS PAPERWORK!

A Hundred!20208We've got 148 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.


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  1. Carl the Bold says:

    Bite your tongue–calculus is not that bad!

  2. Crusader Corim says:

    I’d have to agree. Calculus is WAY easier.

    Naturally, that means I love the system, since complexity is what makes a great system.

    Of course, I usually play monks, which means I get even MORE arcane. (Does abundant step trigger an AOO when I use it to flank an enemy?)

  3. Felagund says:

    Okay, first off, I love the comic. I got a link about a month ago, and have been following it since. It’s absolutely hilarious.

    Next, I think you have the Attack of Opportunity rules a bit mixed up. Unless there was a change in 3.5 that I never caught, or my switch to the skirmish game has completely ruined my mind for RPG rules, you don’t provoke for entering a threatened square. You do provoke for leaving a threatened square (with certain exceptions, of course).

    /nitpick

    • Techan says:

      There is a handy little chart on the back of most DM screens that tells you what actions provoke an attack of opportunity. In the case illustrated in this comic: First of all, you cannot make an attack of opportunity with a bow UNLESS you have the specific feat that lets you make a poin blank attack of opportunity with a bow, and then not with crossbows. If you don’t have the feat (I forget the name, but the whole point is to let you make AOO’s with a bow). Next: moving into an enemy’s threat range only provokes an attack of opportunity if you are not actively engaging that character. For example: I charge at two orcs and swing at one of them. The one I engaged gets no attack of opportunity, the other one does. OR I Bull Rush one enemy and end up in the threat zone of another unengaged enemy, the bystanding enemy gets to attack me. Basically if you’re moving into a threat zone while not being focused on that particular threat, it’s an AOO. Lastly: you cannot make an attack of opportunity if you’re engaged with another enemy AND you cannot disengage to make an attack of opportunity. You don’t get to move in order to get your attack of opportunity. In summation, No Legolas does not get an attack.

      • johanna says:

        Oh that makes perfect sense now. Wait, I wasn’t really listening (TL;DR) ha ha! Can you just tell me if I get to attack or not? My hubby has some sort of program that he uses the laptop to track everything so he doesn’t have to (I think it came with the D&D online paid subscription). It has really cut down on the “whose turn is it again?” after looking in a book and trying to figure out what is going down.

        It also cuts down on the drooling while the rulebooks are being looked over. You can always use the extra drool to help clean up the wet-erase mats but EWWWW!

  4. vonKreedon says:

    This rule-boundedness seriously bothered me at times as it really gets in the way of role playing as both playing and collaborative story creation. I much preferred DMs who took on the role of God and would simply tell me what the hell happened after I told the DM what I tried to do. Of course this doesn’t work if one or more of the other players are rules lawyers.

    Also, I much preferred GURPS over D&D as that system seemed to lend itself more to just playing the encounter out without worrying if you’d rolled the the twenty or the twelve sided dice.

  5. Spider says:

    Felagund, you are right, but the point is still the same. The combat system is good and fun, but it can get insanely complex very fast. There is a point at which the rules of the RPG can hinder the fun of the game. Part of good DMing is knowing when to chuck the rules, just like part of peing a good player is keeping quiet so the DM can chuck the rules (so everyone can have more fun).

  6. ShadoStahker says:

    a) Calculus isn’t incredibly hard once you learn it. It’s just very difficult to learn.

    b) Actually, you don’t get an AoO when someone enters one of your threatened squares. You get one when someone leaves one of your threatened squares. If they move from one threatened square to another, or move away from you, that is. If they just move up to you and into a threatened square, you get nothing.

    As for the specific questions, most are pretty simple.

    - Generally everyone only gets one AoO per round, and can only take it with a melee weapon. If a player decided to take Combat Reflexes, let them remember how many they’ve taken.

    - If two people get an AoO at once, they both get to take it. Resolve the attacks in the order they should have occurred. If one person is passed first, they take their AoO first. If both got AoOs at the exact same time, the person with the highest initiative should attack first.

    - AoOs generally don’t knock a target into another square. If they did, for some reason, it would be resolved like normal movement. Movement out of a threatened square provokes an AoO. The person who forced the enemy to move probably shouldn’t get a second AoO for this, though.

    - Size differences don’t matter. They should be treated the same way as smaller creatures.

    - Why would tentacles matter?

    - A creature who charged is allowed to take AoOs. A sprinting creature isn’t allowed to take any attacks, including AoOs.

    - You don’t threaten any squares while grappling, and as such can not recieve an AoO. If you’re grappling, you need to win an opposed grapple check to escape (even if you started it), unless you’re pinning the opponent. If you’re pinning the opponent, you can release him as a free action, and then take your AoO.

    - You can’t take an AoO against a creature you aren’t aware of. That just makes sense. Allow a spot check if you want.

  7. Alex says:

    Hah, it’s like the joke has continued from the strip into the comments! If you ever publish these in book form (assuming all copyright laws suddenly vanish in a puff of smoke and suchlike), you HAVE to include the comment threads. XD

    Oh, and speaking of nitpicks, in the DM’s very last speech bubble, it should be “whose”, not “who’s”… *ducks*

  8. Cestus says:

    Arg. AoO are not that hard. You should have stuck with grappling rules, or better yet do something really obscure like overrun where you have to look it up every time.

  9. Cestus says:

    Love the comic though. Keep up the good work!

  10. Karaden says:

    Hye, ShadoStahker-

    “- AoOs generally don’t knock a target into another square. If they did, for some reason, it would be resolved like normal movement. Movement out of a threatened square provokes an AoO. The person who forced the enemy to move probably shouldn’t get a second AoO for this, though.”
    However movement caused by attacks (pushback) doesn’t provoke AoO, so even if you had an attack that moved people around (which are really rare) it would never cause AoO to happen.

    Also, moveing from one threatened square to another is exactly the same as moveing from a threatened square to a non-threatened square, no special rules involved.

    I wasn’t aware that sprinting characters didn’t get AoO, I’ll have to check that out in the future.

    Otherwise, good work.

    The AoO rules really are very simple. Rule of thumb is, if something leaves a threatened square through their own movement (and it isn’t a 5-foot step) anyone treatening that square gets an AoO provided that haven’t used all their avalable AoO for the turn. Grappleing people don’t threaten any squares and people useing ranged weapons don’t threaten any squares either. Oh, and unarmed people don’t threaten squares unless they have the unarmed fighting feat (I think).

    If you think thats bad, try GMing with a 3.0 way of the bow deciple teamed up with a naganata specilist, now -thats- a headache (Friend and I did that to a DM, was fun having about 5 AoO each per turn as stuff tried to rush us, he also had a feat that if he delt damage with an AoO the opponent couldn’t move any more, thus not allowing them to attack him.)

  11. Myxx Olydian says:

    Classic… I can’t even count the number of mechanics arguments I had to referree, most of which I finally solved with a “this is what I said, and this is what shall be done!” Nothin like a good attitude adjustment to get the game back on track.

  12. Myxx Olydian says:

    Oh, and why the hell is Aragorn bitching about Lego getting an extra attack?

  13. Rufus Polson says:

    Lovely. And while I agree with vonKreedon (I’m a GURPS man most of the time myself), this kind of stuff creeps into any system more complicated than Tunnels and Trolls.
    Could be worse. Anyone here played Chartmaster (uh, I mean Rolemaster)? Bleaahhh! And all the extra rolls and charts and stuff didn’t even give you a lot of tactical options out of it. Lots of pretty spells, though.

    Shadowrun’s combat rules are pretty baroque too.

  14. DireDoomsayer says:

    Myxx Olydian said “Oh, and why the hell is Aragorn bitching about Lego getting an extra attack?”

    Isn’t there always one in the group?

    My question is…Why isn’t Leggy tellin’ Arry…”shut UUUppp!!!”

  15. theonlymegumegu says:

    I love AoOs in D&D. I think they’re a great addition. I mean, look at the hilarious jokes they provoke! XD

  16. Hendrake says:

    I love that last panel! Been there, done that (and a great shot / comment of Legolas).

    “Ref” – heh.

    The player behind Gimli (“the classicist”) is rapidly becoming my favorite. The 1e-obsessed RPer in my group barely acknowledges 3e rules.

    Great work, per usual – nice to see you managed to bring the rules lawyers out in everyone!

    Keep it up! Hendrake

  17. Snowy says:

    I want a “joke” AoO at this comic as it leaves my threatened area to make room for the next comic!

    Buh – dum bum pssshhhh

  18. Mattingly says:

    So we finally get to find out that the reason Lego stabbed on orc in the eye with an arrow is because he could only make an AOO with a melee attack… Brilliant!

  19. Attorney At Chaos says:

    Keraden said -

    “However movement caused by attacks (pushback) doesn’t provoke AoO, so even if you had an attack that moved people around (which are really rare) it would never cause AoO to happen.”

    But wait – the rules for a Bull Rush attack say that movement by the defender triggers an AoO normally from other people (but not from the person doing the pushing). (PH 3.5 p 154)

  20. Karaden says:

    Good point Attorney at Chaos..

    I was thinking more from an effect like Gust of Wind (which doesn’t actualy state it one way or the other now that I look at it).

    But you can’t use an AoO to bull rush someone, so you’ll never see that happening as an effect of another AoO. I suppose you’d have to look at the rules on the attack that makes the movement happen, because there really arn’t any that I can think of off hand that you could use as an AoO (even an ancient dragon attacking a fairy doesn’t cause pushback… oddly enough)

  21. Shamus says:

    I like the several comments which defend AoO as “not too complicated” through long explanations, since many of these comments disagree with each other. QED

    Actually, I don’t have that much of a problem with AoO, as long as I’m not the DM and nobody expects me to keep track of it all. Rolling the dice and comparing two numbers is about the extent of my calculating abilities. Anything requiring a flowchart gets house-ruled right out of there. :)

  22. greywulf says:

    Absolutely 100% completely and utterly spot on. I HATE ATTACKS OF OPPORTUNITY.

    There. I said it. I feel better now.

  23. David V.S. says:

    Heh. I have not played D&D in years and have never heard of AoO until now, but enjoyed this comic anyway.

    Alex — forget about “whose” and “who’s”: in that last panel, why is the elf holding an arrow by its fletching?

  24. freefall says:

    Tenticles would matter because if there are enough, it could attack you from multiple directions. Then you would have to do one of these. Preform an amazing feat with your weapon (Yah right), defend amazingly, climb a tree, jump in water, duck, dig, call a friend etc. Basicly, it could easily kill you if it had a chance.

    Oh yah, and arigorn is probally just peeved that legolas is not really a girl. and that they have not gotten any treasure, exp, new levels or any of that other junk. And that the dm is a jerk. Also, the fact that he (dm) just sprang a legon of orcs on them might just have agrivated him a little. Another thing could be that he has not seen any shops so far and that the elves were so snooty. In his eyes his “friends” might just be baggage.

    By now the whole “fellowship” is angry with each other they might go to great lengths to seperate…

    Frodo runs away…

    Sam wants the ring and follows…

    Merry and pippin jump onto the orcs’ backs…

    Arigorn kills Boromer…

    But, those are just speculations. Just fragments of my imagination.

  25. freefall says:

    Also, he is holding the arrow right behind the fletvhing.

  26. SwampFox says:

    This is why we play original D&D. ;-) Love the comic. Keep em coming.

  27. Telas says:

    When AoO questions arise, I always want to flip a coin. I figure the players will win about half the time, so who cares?

    That, or go to the Iron Heroes AoO rules: Standard actions that aren’t attacks, and moving at more than 1/4 speed through a threatened square, are the only things that trigger attacks.

    And who said a bull rush can’t be used in an AoO? Per the rules, any standard action attack can be an AoO (trip, disarm, etc), even if it draws one from the guy you’re AoOing… (My house rules, however, call it a simple melee attack, regardless of feats, etc.)

  28. Orcbane says:

    Wizards of the Coast: Turning DMs into Lawyers since 2000!

  29. AlbinoDrow says:

    Let’s hear it for having a group that throws the rules out the window when this problem arises. Loved the comic! :D

  30. smilydeth says:

    Just in case anyone was interested…..In DnD 3.5, there is a feat that allows an archer to threaten a space at range…effectively creating AOO on targets entering the space….note this is a change from the standard rules in which you create AOO by leaving a space….drat where’s my calculator!!

  31. DCollins says:

    I laughed so hard I started crying.

    But the poster above is correct about the basic rule — it’s not “if someone enters a square adjacent to an enemy”, it’s “if someone *leaves* a square adjacent to an enemy”.

  32. Parable says:

    Dam Wizards of the Coast… not for making every one lawyers… Because i used to talk with Pete Venters all the time and when i let on about a great M:TG tournament deck i had he decided to notify people that it was too strong and i found a broken mechanic and they changed the dam Errata knocking me from legal tournament use that year. Bastards. Okay, that was really off topic… guess i just needed to let that out.

    Alex’s post earlier summed up the real humor of this strip. The strip was funny, the comment below it was funny, but the funnier part is that it has now stretched into our real lives… inculding debates and corrections on how it works. Wow… reminds me of all those rules clarifications and arguments when i played. Except my DM would basically invoke the wrath of God and alter the universe to his whim and resolve everything in the manner that made him feel better before allowing life to return to normal. Which pissed off some people but since he always let me fudge my character creation under pretense of “important to future plotline” i never complained about the god complex. (I hope he’s not reading this)

  33. During the filming, Orlando Blum had to dry-fire his bow, because due to sheer number of necessary arrows the bow would not survive long enough if fired properly. Arrows were later digitally inserted into the scene. (Source: unknown, but I remember that I’ve read this on paper. Must be a magazine in a dentist’s office). The explanation makes no sense to me, because I have no idea what actually wears in a bow when fired: string, the sprung material, string ends, or whatever. Thus I don’t know why firing an arrow wears the bow faster. But if true, then Legolas might hold some things wrong quite naturally.

    • WJS says:

      I thought that dry-firing a bow is more likely to damage it. The energy stored when you pull it back has to go somewhere, and if there’s no arrow to push, more of it is absorbed by the bow itself.

  34. Mom says:

    you HAVE to include the comment threads. XD

    This is so true! The biggest laugh for me was when i saw there were 33 comments on this one.

  35. Steelbutcher says:

    Attack of opportunity? Threatened squares? Controlled area? Go back to 2nd edition and learn/remember the difference between role-playing and combat simulation. Yeah, I’m a relic, but “calculus” and “game” are mutually exclusive, and I’d rather game.

  36. TheEvil says:

    I love the strip! However, I have to say that after a 2nd edition game in which the GM said that the orc chieftain could hack the hand off of an unconcious PC my character was guarding with sword drawn, reach down and grab the severed hand with magic ring attached (ironic, eh?)and run back behind his guards and said I couldn’t do anything because it wasn’t my turn in the initiative, I rather like attacks of opportunity.

  37. Will says:

    Dry firing the bow makes no sense at all. Having been into archery at one time, I know that dry firing is extremely hard on the mechanics of the bow, much more so than actually firing an arrow. If you dry fire a bow while shopping at most stores, they’ll force you to buy it on the spot.

    Now of course I was shooting modern compound bows rather than the yew recurves you’d likely use as props in a fantasy movie. They may not even pony up for real English yew.

    I’m betting they had him dry fire because they didn’t want to chance an arrow coming off the knock during filming and potentially killing someone.

  38. Gee, makes me nostalgic for OSRIC/OD&D and RQ … ah for the days when I worked at TSR and all was right in the world …

    Though for lots of 3rd edition humor http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0001.html

    Steve
    still having fun as a lawyer
    and with rules at http://adrr.com/story/

  39. Fieari says:

    I also think AoOs aren’t complicated. The rule is basically, if someone is threatening you with a melee weapon, anything you do that’s not on the following list provokes an attack of opportunity.

    Things that don’t: 5′ step, “withdrawal action” (moving away without attacking or doing anything else), making a regular attack with your weapon, casting defensively, and succeeding on a tumble check.

    Now, complexity comes in when you see the “almost”. When things are marked out as not provoking, it adds more exceptions, and you have to look them up, which is frustrating, but can be hand waved away by the DM easily enough. The various feats which make things not provoke also make things more complex, but I say, if you the player picked the feat, you’re responsible for reminding the DM that you’re safe, otherwise you get nailed.

    Note that you provoke for leaving a threatened area, because you’re “doing something while threatened”, but not entering, because you aren’t threatened before you enter, and thus you’re safe.

    Not having AoOs give a big powerboost to spellcasters, and mean that it’s impossible to stop someone from just rushing right by the bodyguards and killing the king just because he won initiative. I love the AoO rules, and wouldn’t play without ‘em.

  40. I still don’t understand why AoO are so hard for some people to deal with and wonder how it is that AoO so infrequently comes into play in my games in the first place. AoO rules are included in the game for good reason; namely to represent that certain actions and movement in combat will subject you to additional dangers that makes those activities something to be avoided, not bulldogged through. On those few occasions where they come up in my own games it is not a matter of getting as many AoO as possible but of PC’s and monsters alike avoiding AoO as much as possible, subjecting themselves to extra attacks only when the need to perform a given threatening action or move is notably greater than the possibility of taking additional damage, or the player just doesn’t care as the additional damage is unlikely to have a significant impact on the encounter. Grappling, however, gets avoided simply because the rules for it are now, always have been, and likely always will be, stupidly obnoxious.

    Love the strip, BTW!

  41. Eltanin says:

    I’ve been an avid fan of this site since a friend pointed me to the comic. Now I come back for the blog as much as anything. Great fun!

    The real calculus comes in trying to figure out how many replies have been posted by counting the dice counter to the left of each post. Interesting choices you made with that counter!

  42. ngthagg says:

    This comic is spot on. Never before have I seen comments add so much to a comic strip.

    Here’s my favourite wacky AoO situation:

    A character, low on HP but with a potion in hand, wants to back away from the enemy who threatens him and drink the potion. So the guy backs up 30 and starts drinking. Because he did not take a withdraw action, the enemy gets an AoO, hits him, and drops him below 0 HP. Of course, the character doesn’t get dropped 30 ft. away, he gets dropped next to the enemy. Obviously, he got knocked unconcious because he tried to drink the potion. But he only tried to drink the potion once he was 30 ft back. Since he isn’t 30 ft back, he obviously never tried to drink the potion, so the enemy shouldn’t have attacked him. But since the enemy didn’t attack him, then he will try to drink the potion . . . you see where this leads.

    ngthagg

    • Bob says:

      The AoO in this case comes when he tries to back off. “I back up 30 feet”… no, you TRY to back up 30 feet, but in actuality as soon as you start to move, your opponent gets his shot in. There’s no paradox.

      Similarly, “drinking a potion” involves some preparation such as finding the bottle, making sure it’s the right one and not Dave’s Hot Sauce or something, and opening it before you can begin to drink. The AoO happens during this preparation, rather than during the actual swallowing, so even in this case it’s pretty obvious you get the damage from the hit BEFORE you get the benefit of the potion, and if the damage incapacitates you, then the potion just spills out on the ground (if your DM is kind, he may rule it happens before you got it open, so at least it’s there in your unconscious hand for one of your teammates to force down your throat to keep you from dying).

  43. Althor Creel says:

    We have a very simple AoO house rule for our campaigns. We ignore it and don’t use it. How is that for simple? LOL

  44. I’m with Will: I bet the reason for dry-firing the bow was safety. You can load a gun with blanks, but this is the only way to blank-fire a bow. And since I doubt that Orlando Bloom is a master bowman. And because it’s hard for anyone, even a master, to fire two arrows at once. And because in scenes where an arrow actually hits someone, the “someone” is computer-generated anyway, so the arrow would also have to be computer-generated at some point.

  45. Karaden says:

    -Althor

    Mages must have a hard time in your campain since fighters can’t stop people from rushing them all the time. AoO is good for lots of reasons that others have pointed out, like TheEvil and the unstopable orc.

    -ngthagg

    Not really that hard to work out, his first action was a move action to back up 30 feet, which provoked an AoO, which got him knocked unconcious, he falls on the spot and his turn ends, not really that complicated.

    It really seems like people’s trouble with AoO is that they’ve never actualy read the section on it or something, because its a rather simple half page explination, there is an abreviated three sentance explination in the back of the book in the glossary. All abilities, actions and whatnot will say if they provoke attacks of opertunity, so if your useing an ability, you should know, because you should have read that section to know what the heck the ability does in the first place. And even if you can’t remember it from that, there is a handy chart (p141 PHB) that lists virtual every action there is and weather it provokes AoOs or not.

    Most complicated thing I’ve ever seen in game when useing AoO is remembering if you’ve used your AoO or not for the turn. (excepting my earlier way of the bow/naganata specilist combo)

    Oh, and having read through the AoO section, you can’t make a bull rush on an AoO, or feint or any of those things. Read it, it says that you get “a single melee attack” as in a normal attack with a melee weapon. Bull rush, feint and all those others are used “as a standard action”. While a standard action can be a melee attack, the melee attack from AoOs arn’t standard actions, so you couldn’t bull rush as an AoO. Though things like that could certenly be made house rules, by the book you couldn’t (and bull rush in particular I wouldn’t general allow because it doesn’t use a weapon)

    Well, I’m fairly sure this particular topic has generated more posts then any other.

    Oh, and really, don’t start dropping rules just because they are a little difficult, magic is one of the most confuseing parts of the game (takeing up nearly half the book) but you don’t see people dropping it because its too hard to figure out.

  46. Anonymous Fan says:

    Longtime viewer, first time commenter.

    Love the comic, please keep it up!

    As to today’s strip: you, and everyone else who commented ahead of me have succinctly encapsulated the many reasons why I gave up playing D&D (whatever version AD&D is) years ago. If I wanted to argue combat rules, I’d play miniatures. There’s a reason why these things are called ROLE-PLAYING games and not RULE-PLAYING games. At least, I thought there was a reason besides making money off the intellectually advanced and socially awkward.

    Call of Cthulhu is the best system ever: you roleplay, you roll, it doesn’t make any difference, you die. It should be called “The Game of Life.”

  47. Karaden says:

    P.S.
    What I want to know about the bow and arrow is why he draws it to his mouth instead of his eye… thats got to make aiming difficult.

  48. Crusader Corim says:

    I have to agree with Shamus that the sheer number of comments really cements the beauty of this thread. Especially the ones who say “AOO are really easy” and give a half-a-page explaination, that is contradicted by the second half-page explaination.

    Oh, and I agree with SDB about the reason for dry-firing. Most likely safety, not bow longevity, was the number one reason.

    And Karaden? He’s an elf. They do things strangely. Silly elfs.

  49. Pink Fuzzy Bunny says:

    It figures that this joke about how much space is devoted to AOO rules and discussion in the game would itself spur the longest page of rules discussion in the strip.

  50. Aaron Litz says:

    Oh yes, it’s so very hard to determine whether or not you’ve distracted yourself and made an opening for a free swipe at you.

    You drop your guard, they get a free swing at you. You run past someone willy-nilly, they get a free swing at you. No half-page explanations. Nothing complicated. No rulebooks required, even. Just plain simple common sense.

    It isn’t rocket science, dude.

    And yes, I really do think it adds to the feeling of realism when rummaging through your backpack and drinking a potion in the middle of combat gives your opponent a free swing at you.

  51. Fernmonkey says:

    Aaron, I agree. It does actually make sense if you think about it, as do the concentration roll rules.

  52. Parzival says:

    Yeah, I think it’s a hoot that the comments have continued in the same manner as the comic. As a rules designer myself, that tells me that the AoO rule in the latest version is A Bad Rule. But there’s more than enough here about that.

    As for why Legolas draws the bow to his jaw, as a former archery instructor I can say that’s because that’s exactly where he [i]should[/i] draw the bowstring. There’s a natural resting point for the thumb just under the right cheek; it keeps the hand steady, allowing for precise aiming. That’s the way I was taught, and I became a pretty fair shot using that technique. Drawing to the eye really doesn’t give any advantage.

  53. Anonymous Fan-
    One of the best reasons for the existence of online discussion forums is to discuss rules OUTSIDE of the game, not during the game. I can tell you that the need for the DM to make arbitrary rulings when rules issues pop up is greatly reduced by 3E rules. People argue 3E rules a lot more than during AD&D 1E/2E days because the public forums are available to do it. You don’t really see AoO discussed much elsewhere though. Interesting.

    Oh, and the reason for Bloom drawing to his mouth rather than eye is one of two things: nobody told him otherwise; or more likely they DID tell him to do so because it leaves more of the actors face exposed for the camera instead of the back of his hand.

  54. Will says:

    Karaden, pulling to your mouth serves two purposes.

    Look at the last image in the comic. See how he has the tip of his index finger is resting in the corner of his mouth? You do that because it is a very steady and consistent draw point. The second reason is that, in the heat of battle, there is less risk of you stabbing yourself in the eye with your fingers and the knock of the arrow when drawing to the corner of your mouth instead of to your temple.

    To aim, you put two visible notches in the side of the bow. One is centered on the bow itself. This is where you want the shaft of arrow to set when you draw, so you grip just below this point. The second notch is placed roughly the vertical distance from the corner of your mouth to your eye above the first notch. This gives a basic reference point from which you can then train yourself to hit what you’re shooting at based on distance, wind, deflection, etc..

  55. dpmcalister says:

    As for Legolas not getting an AoO because he’s using a bow. I’m pretty sure the player would have twinked him out all the way, including a couple of levels in the Order of the Bow Initiate prestige class. The second level of that PrC gives you the ability to threaten squares with your bow.

    Of course, I only know this because I’ve twinked my archer PC with that PrC ;)

  56. haashaastaak says:

    I predict the final tally of comments for this trip will exceed 100. But I guarantee I won’t read any more that have individual paragraphs about rules that are longer than a dozen lines!

  57. Gropos says:

    Will is correct. Drawing a bow to your check the standard practice. In fact, drawing an arrow to your eye would be incredibly disorienting. Imagine playing pool and bringing the cue back to your eye, it just won’t work.

  58. AltarielofLothlorien says:

    I love these comics! Are you going to continue into Two Towers and Return of the King? It would be hilarious to see what Aragorn does when he finds out there are TWO pretty girls after him.

  59. Stratim says:

    i just wanted to remind everyone to click on the ads once in a while. with this many views, it cant be cheap to keep the place running.

    Great job on the comics!

  60. -Chipper says:

    And the hits just keep coming. :-) Great comic.

    Regarding Legolas ‘dry-firing’: one reason was safety, another reason was to make him look like a suave elf archer expert – it would have been very difficult for Orlando to smoothly, repeatedly reach back to the quiver, draw one arrow, perfectly fit it into the bow, draw back, shoot, and repeat as we see in the movie if he had to use real arrows. We saw him rapid-firing several arrows per camera shot at around one per second.

    For some closeup shots he did use real arrows.

  61. The Bitch says:

    It’s all been said; and then some; and then some more. I mostly just wanted to see the dice change. Oh, I love this strip.

  62. TaliEaterOfWorlds says:

    I’ve never found the rules all that confusing, usually have to glance at it when it comes up, but no diffrent then bull rushing, tripping, grappling, undead turning etc. etc. etc.

  63. Technical notes on the Elf:
    Having worked with both archers and with prop weapons for theatre/films, I’d posit the fighting sequence bow was of laminated rubbers (a soft composite, but not lethal) with harder plastic tips to secure the “string” which would have been safer to touch barehanded than gut or wound chord stock. There would have been at least three backups for various circumstances in the film, plus repairs on set. They had old-world artisans as consultants for the design, swordmasters for the combat – I can only guess that someone had a word or two with Bloom before they began shooting (either film or arrows). After all, it’s not like he’s playin’ a gangsta whose goal is to hold the weapon in his own special way.

    Not so technical:
    Legolas just knows he’ll hit; he’s in an epic story and the CG integration is on his side. If he fired wildly, the foley artists would have an offscreen thunk/Argh combo ready to tell ue he’d hit someone with a natural 20.
    Imagine the effect on morale if Legolas was only 3rd level and was really good at running on water, but kind of duffing his shots? Oh, the ribbing he’d take.

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